The holiday season is here, and that means it's time for Mulled Wine!
Honestly, nothing screams “Holiday Party” quite like mulled wine. Mulled wine is a wine that's enriched with seasonal flavors like cinnamon and cloves—it's the holiday drink recipe that dreams are made of. Enjoying wine as a hot beverage might sound a little strange if you’ve never tried it, but just think of it as the sultry cousin of the Hot Toddy! Trust me, it’s amazing.
Mulled Wine is super simple to make and fills your house with the scents of warming spices. Plus, it's delicious! I always have some on the stove on Christmas Eve (just be sure to not let it boil or it will evaporate.)
Made with warm and vibrant ingredients like whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange slices, and sugar, Mulled Wine is the ultimate holiday cocktail recipe. And BTW, if wine isn't your thing, simply replace the wine with the same amount of apple cider for an equally great option.
Not only is this festive cocktail beyond easy to prepare, but it’s perfect to set on warm on the stove or in a crockpot for the duration of a holiday party.
This ensures that your guests will have a warm drink ready at all times! Pair it with your favorite holiday snacks for a culinary experience that is guaranteed to excite your taste buds.
Ready to try what’s bound to become your new favorite holiday cocktail? Let’s get into it!
What is Mulled Wine?
Mulled Wine is a traditional holiday drink that dates back to 2nd century Europe.
Originally, it was created by the Romans who started heating up their wine as a means of defending themselves against the harsh, cold winter.
Naturally, as the Roman Empire spread, so did the love for spiced, hot wine. (And really, who can blame them?)
Pretty soon, people all over Europe were blending spices as a way to enjoy a delicious beverage while simultaneously promoting health and warding off potential illnesses.
In the 1890’s, people began to associate Mulled Wine not just with the winter, but with Christmastime. From there, it grew into a global phenomenon that would continue to spread for centuries to come.
This festive wine recipe has become a staple in my household, especially during the holidays.
With notes of citrus, cinnamon, and sugar, Mulled Wine is one of those irresistible after-dinner indulgences that never go out of style.
To make your own Mulled Wine, you will need a few key ingredients:
- Red wine. You’re going to want to opt for a dry red wine, like a Grenache or a Merlot. Don’t feel like you need to splurge on an expensive brand, especially because we’re going to be adding so much to it. Instead, look for an affordable, yet quality, bottle. (Think of something in the $15 range.)
- Brandy. Not only does brandy make our holiday cocktail a little boozier (in the best way), but it also adds flavorful notes of flowers, fresh fruit, and citrus zest. If you don’t have a high-quality brandy, you can use orange liqueur instead.
- Fresh oranges. Navel orange slices will simmer in the wine as it cooks, adding a zesty, citrus flavor. Make sure to remove the seeds first and if you’re worried about the wine being bitter, opt for just half an orange.
- Mulling spices. The secret to this glorious beverage lies in the spices! These vary depending on the recipe, but my favorites are whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise.
- Sugar. Traditionally, white sugar is used to sweeten up this spiced wine recipe. However, feel free to swap it out for a natural sweetener like honey.
- Garnish. To make this a really show-stopping cocktail, opt for colorful garnishes. My top picks include whole cranberries, orange slices, and cinnamon sticks.
How to Make Mulled Wine
Luckily for us all, this festive drink is as easy to make as it is delicious! To make this flavorful Mulled Wine, just follow these simple steps:
- Place all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium heat on the stove for 30-40 minutes (do not boil it as the wine will evaporate).
- Turn the heat to low and cook for up to 3 hours. (Note: Alcohol starts to evaporate at 172°F (78°C), so be careful not to heat it too high and not to let it reduce.) Mulled Wine should be warm and can lightly simmer for the first 15 minutes, but you should then turn the heat down to avoid evaporation or reduction.
- Serve in mugs with a few whole, fresh cranberries, a small slice of orange, and a cinnamon stick. Use any fancy garnishes you like to make this drink extra pretty!
As I mentioned, countries all across the globe have been concocting their own incredible versions of this spiced wine recipe for years.
That being said, there are a number of ways to switch things up based on your flavor preferences and what you have at home.
Here are some of my favorite ways to make this cocktail recipe your own:
- Try it with white wine. Red wine not your cup of tea? No problem. Just like sangria can be made with red or white wine, you can make a mulled wine with dry white wine too if you prefer. Keep in mind this will alter the flavor profile.
- Use a chai tea bag. If you don’t have cloves or star anise, feel free to add in one or two chai tea bags (preferably ones that are caffeine-free, given that you will likely be serving this drink in the evening). You can steep them directly into the mixture with everything else.
- Swap your aromatics. There are tons of delicious, holiday-inspired aromatics that will taste delicious in this dish, so feel free to mix and match as you please. Fresh ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, and lemon zest are some terrific options to try.
- Use a crockpot. This dish can be made using a slow cooker (cooked on low) or in a crock pot. However, if you’re taking the crock pot route, make sure you keep an eye on things. If your wine begins to simmer, lower the heat after 15 minutes.
What to Serve With Mulled Wine
This warm and festive cocktail is the ideal drink for cozying up next to the fireplace with cherished family members or friends.
Similar to eggnog or a Hot Toddy, this isn’t the kind of holiday drink you pair with a large meal.
Mulled Wine is best when enjoyed on its own or paired with your favorite snacks.
Need some ideas? Here are some of my favorite snacks to pair with this cocktail:
- Cookies. Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about this combo. Mulled Wine is the perfect dessert drink to pair with The Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe or any of your favorite Christmas cookie recipes.
- Cheese. Want something that’ll really impress your guests? Try prepping a Healthy Cheese Snack Tray to pair with this beautiful cocktail.
- Nuts and oats. A glass of Mulled Wine goes great with a handful of nuts or oats to snack on. Try serving this spiced wine alongside a bowl of this Easy Healthy Homemade Granola Recipe or The Perfect Baked Oatmeal Recipe (+ 7 Variations).
- Baked goods. The warm spice and subtle sweetness of this beverage pairs wonderfully with almost any of your favorite baked good recipes. Serve this dish alongside these black bean brownies for a rich after-dinner dessert experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this holiday cocktail recipe:
Which wine to use for mulled wine?
Mulled Wine is traditionally made using a dry red wine, like a Merlot or Grenache.
Because these wines are dark, fruity, and full-bodied, they are able to support all the bold and delicious flavors that we will be adding to the mix.
Also, know that the secret to a delicious batch of Mulled Wine is not an expensive bottle of vino.
You should be opting for a wine that you enjoy the taste of on its own, but you don’t need anything fancy. Shoot for something in the $15 range.
How do you store this holiday drink?
To store leftover mulled wine, allow it to cool completely. Then, pour it into an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Alternatively, you can freeze it for up to 2-3 months and then blend it up later for delicious wine slushies.
Why is my Mulled Wine bitter?
If your drink tastes bitter, then you might have accidentally boiled it during the cooking process. When mulling wine, slow and long is always the way to go.
Another trick to avoid bitter-tasting wine is to only use half an orange and remove the seeds first.
More Healthy Holiday Recipes
Looking for more holiday recipes to try out? Give these a whirl:
- How to Make Healthy Hot Chocolate
- Browned Butter Pumpkin Cookies (Perfect for Holidays!)
- Delicious Christmas Sangria Recipe
- 5 Healthy Holiday Appetizers You Will LOVE!
- Easy Healthy Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-Free)
Looking for an amazing holiday cocktail recipe to impress your friends? Best-Ever Mulled Wine is warm, comforting, and bursting with vibrant flavors. It's the perfect drink to enjoy this season! Please always drink responsibly.
- 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine (Grenache or Merlot work great)
- ¼ cup high-quality brandy (or orange liqueur)
- 1 navel orange, sliced into rounds, seeds discarded (use only ½ an orange to make it less bitter if desired)
- 5 whole cloves (use 6-8 for an even stronger flavor)
- 2 cinnamon sticks (add a 3rd if you want a stronger flavor)
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 tablespoons white sugar or honey (more or less to taste)
- Place all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium heat on the stove for 30-40 minutes (do to boil).
- Turn the heat to low and cook for up to 3 hours. You can drink it after the initial 30-40 minutes, but the longer it sits the stronger the spices will become. Mulled Wine should be warm and can lightly simmer for the first 15 minutes, but you should then turn the heat down to avoid evaporation or reduction.
- Serve in mugs with handles and garnish with a few whole, fresh cranberries, a small slice of orange, and/or a cinnamon stick. Use any fancy garnishes you like to make this drink extra pretty!
Alcohol starts to evaporate at 172°F (78°C), so be careful not to heat it too high and not to let it reduce.
You can make this beverage non-alcoholic by substituting an equal amount of apple cider for the wine and eliminating the brandy.
Need a stunning garnish idea? Grab a toothpick and use it to skewer a few fresh cranberries, then lay it across your mug. Pair this with an orange slice and a cinnamon stick for an incredible presentation!
Keywords: mulled wine, mulled wine recipe, holiday cocktail recipe, holiday drink recipe